Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hachet Men

The President of Waddell and Reed, Tom Butch, loves to fish. He also really likes to hang out with Waddell and Reed folks. He had the vision of getting a bunch of us together to go fishing in Canada. I was thrilled when he asked me if I'd be interested. I get to travel the world with W&R folks. I thought this would be a good chance for Bo to get to know some of the company's top brass. It was also a small reward for 2010 being our best year ever in the 15 years we have worked together. So we were off to become "Hachet Men"

We flew to Winnepeg and stayed the night in the Fairmont Hotel. The next morning (4:15 AM wake up call) we boarded a chartered flight with Nolinor Air to fly to a dirt landing strip at Hatchet Lake. Hachet Lake is located 600 miles South of the Arctic Circle and 680 miles North of Winnepeg

Dirt landing strip at Hatchet Lake.

We walked down a short road to the lake shore where there were 14 boats waiting for our group of 28. We boated over to an Island where the lodge is located. The lodge is the only dwelling on the Island or the 200 square mile lake. It is all made from locally cut spruce logs. There are cabins for the 28 guests of the lodge, the 14 Cree Indian guides and their families, the pilot and the other staff members of the lodge.

Our cabin had four bedrooms, two baths and a little living room. It was very comfortable for us. It is quite obvious that there are no building codes this far north but it was great. To make things more comfortable, the staff came into our cabin at 5:30 AM and started a fire in the wood stove and left a pot of Hot Chocolate for us. I tried to get Bo to serve me my Coco in bed but he wouldn't do it.
The staff in the lodge always dressed in matching uniforms. Breakfast at 7:00AM, dinner at 7:00 PM and always served with white linen table cloths.

These next few pictures were taken of our first fish we caught. We took pictures because we didn't know any better (we were catching minnows compared with what was to come) and we have both been on fishing outings were we catch one right off the bat and then nothing more.

We were catching Northern Pike and Lake Trout. The lake is strictly catch and release using barb-less hooks.

Now that's a fish. Bo caught this 42 inch Northern Pike. 42 inches is a big fish but up here they don't really get excited until the fish measures more than 50 inches.

They lake is catch and release, but we were able to keep enough fish for lunch. Our guides were Cree Indians. Being Indians they are allowed to keep some fish.

They would start looking for "lunchable" size fish around 11:00 am. They have many prearranged sites for a shore lunch. Some times we would get several of us together and sometimes we would have lunch alone with our guide Winston McCleod. Lunch consisted of french fried potatoes, fried onions, creamed corn, baked beans and fried fish.

Our Guide, Winston, was 3/4 Cree and 1/4 Scott. His Grandfather, Malachi McCleod, canoed into the area in 1938 and set up a trapping line and built a small cabin. He was one of the first settlers in the area. Several of his grandsons are fishing guides at the lake.

We also caught a couple of Walleye. We weren't trying to but they jumped on the line anyway.

As if Hatchet Lake was not remote enough, we had the option to fly out to 20 other lakes in the area. Here we are flying out to Hanna Lake.

Our plane was a 1976 Dehavelin (Canadian made) turbo prop plane. Our pilot was a little French speaking guy from Quebec. Most of the flights are only 15 - 30 minutes away.

38 inch Northern Pike.

Now that's a big trout. It measured 36 inches. One of the guys in our group caught a 42 incher. The fun thing was I caught three just like this in about 10 minutes.

After a while we decided to try our hand at catching Norther Pike with medium weight fly rods. At first we lost them. Pike have a mouth full very sharp teeth. We usually had to use steel leaders. It took a while but we got the hang of getting them into the boat.

Here is a 38 incher Bo caught on the fly. I know that some of the guys brought fly rods but to my knowledge we were the only ones going for Pike with them.

Our Second fly out was to Donahue Lake. It was a nice calm day. I think we caught the most fish here.

Here was our shore lunch crew on the shore of Lon du lac river that feeds into Donahue Lake.

Here we are with our Cree Indian guide, Winston McCleod.

Here is Mr. Butch and Mr. Hofmiester with their guide.

After four days on the Lake our plane comes in to take us back to Winnipeg. We never really kept track of how many fish we caught. But it had to have been 250 to 300 fish. Men are funny creatures. We are so competitive. There were daily scores of who caught the most fish. Some boats were getting over 100 fish in a day. Fish were measured to the fraction of an inch. Since all we could bring back to the lodge was pictures; strategies were laid out on how to take the picture so as to make the fish look the biggest. We tried to keep score, but we were having so much fun we usually lost track by 10:00 in the morning.


Jesse said...

Great trip, and, uh... great fishing! Glad Bo went along and glad you got to go be a part of Conrad's day before you left. I really love your post about him too.

Love you dad.

Jesse said...

Wow! What a great trip. Does it get any better? Probably only if Jesse and I were there with you...